Sunday, August 10, 2014

How The New TMNT Movie Shows Western Culture is Becoming More Fem-Centric

Just saw the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie today. Some interesting points:

The Title:
Realistically, this movie should be called "April O'Neil and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," because that's what you're going to see in the plot - more Megan Fox than the actual turtles themselves.

April O'Neil:
It's pretty obvious they've gone to great lengths to remove more vestiges of the damsel-in-distress than before, and emphasize more of the independent career woman. Even in the '80s cartoons, the two existed (fem-centric culture having already started), but in this version, conveniently, April needs much less rescuing, despite doing the same schtick of getting into trouble with the Foot Clan by snooping around.

The Turtles:
The only time these guys really contribute to the plot is when action sequences are called for. Much less of an attempt is made to develop them into characters the way the 1990 film tried (to what extent is another debate). After watching them for a bit, you begin to think you're just watching another new Transformers movie. It is Michael Bay + Megan Fox + CGI characters, after all - except notably minus even a Beta male lead such as Shia LaBeouf.

April O'Neil's cameraman:
This is pretty much what men are reduced to in pop Western culture these days - creepy, stupid, weak punching bags. At least in the 1990 film, his closest counterpart, Casey, was able to fight - never mind get the girl (albeit by somehow being turned on by her masculinity).

April O'Neil's boss:
Conveniently changed from a white male to a black female. As a Hispanic-looking Asian, I can't say this change wasn't purposely made.

The origin story:
The turtles are now a more-or-less planned experiment, rescued by April O'Neil as a child, rather than pure accidents. Can't remind all the single-mom accidents out there now that they're accidents. That would hurt their fe-e-elings, despite it making them come to terms with this thing called ... reality. Heck, in the 2nd TMNT '90s movie, the turtles have to do just that (albeit in one short scene): come to terms with being accidents, rather than planned, as they subconsciously imagined.

The Foot:
They might as well be robots again, like in the '80s cartoons. No attempt is made to humanize them like in the 1990s film. In that film, the Foot becomes a warning to moviegoers: disenfranchised young males are more likely to correctly calculate that a life outside eroding institutions in the West, such as families, is a better risk/reward payoff than one in it. The difference between 1990 and 2014 is that in 1990, being outside the system manifested itself as crime, while in 2014, being outside the system manifests itself as hidden addictions, usually to porn and/or video games. But hey, as long as crimes aren't being committed, who cares if young males don't bother to reach their potential?

In conclusion, if the media is a reflection of the culture, then ... buyer beware.

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